Independent surveys this week by the Democrat and Republican U.S. Senate candidates show independent Jon Barrie scoring 9 percent in the three way contest to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
According to GOP pollster Glen Bolger, former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson is holding down 42 percent of the vote to Democratic Representative Martin Heinrich’s 43 percent. Barrie, running under the Independent American Party line, has 9 percent and 6 percent of respondents were undecided.
Heinrich’s Democratic firm, GBA Strategies, has him leading Republican Wilson 48 percent to 40 percent with Barrie also coming in at 9 percent. In a head-to-head match up, GBA has Heinrich beating Wilson 52 percent to 44 percent.
Barrie has always referred to his effort as the “miracle campaign” and he may be right. New Mexico is a difficult state to get on the ballot: Independents/third party candidates are required to turn in 6,000 signatures (Democrats and Republicans need only submit 2,000). With a very small cadre of volunteers, who the candidate calls the ‘Barrie Brigade,” over 10,000 names were given over to the Secretary of State. Just before the certification deadline however, the campaign was informed that it was short 277 valid signatures—less than .03% of the list. With only days remaining to challenge the decision, the campaign sued the Secretary of State (a Republican) and won the right to be on the ballot in a ruling handed down by the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Days later, in what must have simply been a coincidence, the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced it was diverting $3 million from the Heather Wilson campaign to North Dakota. The New Mexico contest quickly went from toss-up to leaning Democrat.
What is significant in the new polling data is how it compares to a August 23 Rasmussen survey of likely voters that showed Heinrich with 48 percent of the vote to Wilson’s 41 percent with 5 percent preferring “some other candidate.” The support for an amorphous “other candidate” nearly doubles when a specific name is mentioned. Barrie is an insurgent running his campaign on a wing and a prayer, but there is a thirst for someone different that the duopoly is offering.
Full disclosure at this point: I have been shuttling back and forth to New Mexico to help Jon Barrie and I’ve witnessed the “miracle” up close—like a family of five, ranging from age five on up, who collected thousands of signatures.
Key volunteers met each week to discuss strategy and tactics. I’ve sat with grass roots Tea Party activists, business professionals, officers of the Constitution Party, Libertarian Party, and Ron Paul campaign veterans (especially Young Americans for Liberty) all at the same table. This is a fusion of alternative political interests, and it’s generating lots of sparks.
Three televised debates are scheduled later in October, and the threshold for participation are polls showing 10 percent support. Given how far Barrie’s Brigade have taken him, it looks like only need a very small miracle to get him in the ring.